There have been precious few books written about the history of our beloved Padres; until now, the only one that immediately came to mind was the great Bob Chandler's Tales from the San Diego Padres Dugout. San Diego Union-Tribune veteran Kirk Kenney recently stepped up to give Padres fans another volume worthy of lifelong inclusion on their bookshelves. Kenney's 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, released last month, is one of those rare books that you'll both want to stay up late to finish, then frequently consult as a reference book thereafter.
The book is structured exceptionally well. While you can pick it up and read any of the 100 mini-chapters on their own and become fully informed on that particular subject, the book has a very good flow if read from cover to cover. For instance, the section about the infamous 1993 fire sale leads into the one about Trevor Hoffman, who was acquired at that time, and from there it goes into Hell's Bells and the story of how that became Trevor's entrance music. Again, any of these would stand on their own if used as bathroom or coffeetable reading, but the way they fit together makes it difficult to set it down once you've started.
Another thing that impressed me was the lack of redundancy. You would think that for each section to be autonomous, a lot of information would have to be repeated, but this was largely avoided thanks to deft editing. While it's impossible to avoid reiterating some basic facts for the sake of coherence, I never felt like I was reading the same thing again, and it moved along smoothly. Any point that needed restated to make a chapter stand on its own was written in such a way that it felt like a helpful reminder as I read through, not a rehashing.
My favorite part of how the book was structured was the significance of many of the chapter numbers. Sections on Steve Garvey, Tim Flannery, Bruce Bochy, Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Adrian Gonzalez, Ollie Brown, Dave Winfield, Rollie Fingers, Randy Jones, Gaylord Perry, Jake Peavy, Mark Davis, and Trevor Hoffman all correspond with the uniform number each wore, while some incidents are given the number of the year in which they happened; this spans from the expansion draft at 68 and the first game at 69 through many memorable and lesser-know occurrences in the 1970s and '80s such as Nate Colbert's big day at 72, Eric Show taking a seat on the mound at 85, "The Feeney Finger" at 88, and so many more all the way up to Cammy's Snickers bar at 96.
As for the actual content of the book, much of the information and many of the anecdotes are things that devout fans with an inclination for team history will already know, but even those are presented in such a way that provides clarity and separates the apocryphal from the factual. Kenney drew not only from his 31 years as a sportswriter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, but farther back to his childhood growing up as a fan of the team and then working as a vendor while enrolled in high school and San Diego State University. He also notes in his foreword that baseball lifer and former longtime club employee Andy Strasberg was of particular assistance, chipping in with insight and photos.
I would consider this a must-have for Padres fans, whether they're hardcore devotees who relish the opportunity to pore over every scrap of information they can find about the team, or casual fans with a light interest in the club's past and present. It is available in softcover wherever books are sold, as well as digitally through your preferred e-reader service.